Get The Buzz On Chapel Hill 2020

Don't like what I'm writing on Chapel Hill 2020? Well there's good news. The town recently launched a new blog, 2020 Buzz, which will keep you abreast on all the changes in the process if you don't find my reporting sufficient :) Here's the good news on the blog: it provides another avenue to have your voice be heard. You can comment on virtually anything once you navigate away from the main page and you don't have to been a fancy Wordpress whiz to figure out how to do it. I think it can also be harnessed to be a wonderful tool for disseminating information. I would encourage the town to use a lot of multimedia if possible. People respond to images and videos in ways that they don’t respond to text, and I know a lot of people out there learn better through pictures and graphics than they do through words (myself included).

All that being said, my one concern with the blog is that it might be kind of intimidating to those that are not web gurus. The design is simple and that’s great, but it wasn’t immediately clear to me where you go to give feedback. My other concern is the general format. I think blogs can evolve into a one-way communication strategy, where an organization simply throws a bunch of information out there—I’m worried that might happen here, since only administrators can make front page posts (at least it seemed that way to me). If possible, it’d be cool to have a sort of online chalkboard, where everybody could leave comments across one huge Chapel Hill 2020 wall. Not sure if that’s possible, but just thought I’d make a suggestion. If that's not possible, I think a format similar to the one here at OP, where anyone can post, would be great.

Finally, my hope is that the town makes social media a more concrete strategy. The Chapel Hill 2020 page on Facebook has only 18 followers and there is no Chapel Hill 2020 Twitter feed. If there’s a way to get the impressive crowd that came out last week to all move online, we could continue the conversations straight through June.




The blog that was created for our Chapel Hill 2020 process,, not only has all the words and phrases that were suggested at our first meeting last Tuesday to be part of a vision statement for the new comprehensive plan, but it also has all of the suggested ideas for themes that were suggested as well.  And for you techies, it has some interested word clouds that were created from this info for not only each of 28 tables that evening but also for the combined effort.

Love the word clouds, George! That's a great idea. 

take (any) of the credit but it belongs entirely to Garrett Davis, a
Town Planner, and one or more interns [unfortunately I don't have a
name(s)] that work with him.  Hopefully we can continue to find new ways
to keep this process fun.  As I stated last Tuesday. Matt Leighninger,
our facilitator, told us that keeping it fun would be one of the key
components to keeping people involved.  Garrett et al are certainly
trying to hold up their end.

OK everyone.  The draft Vision Statements and draft Key Themes are now up on  Please remember that these are only drafts and will be up for review by everyone who shows up tomorrow night.  And you are all coming, aren't you?

I am so pleased that the town has been able to digest and post this information before meeting. I find it very useful to be able to look these ideas over and ruminate without the time and social pressure of one intense meeting with hundreds of people. So glad to see them making good use of the blog.My initial reaction to the Vision statements is: meh. None of them sound very different from Chapel Hill today, and I don't get a sense of what the Town would do differently to accomplish the visions. I guess I'm looking for something more specific, but I also wonder if such a thing is possible now at he beginning of this process. I actually would have thought that the vision would be determined more toward the end of the process when we have had a better chance to express our priorities and better understand those of other participants.The draft themes (quoted below) give us a sense of where the "meat" will be, and they're a good step. Some of the best ideas I heard in my small group last week were about creating an effective network for people to get around without cars (between neighborhoods and downtown, and within the region); and redevelopment, density, and the potential of Carolina North. I don't really see these reflected, and I think they're pretty critical to figuring out how to be successful in the FUTURE. I'm also wondering how they'll deal with the many areas of overlap and interconnection between the themes.

Good places and new spaces: Downtown & Development (special places, downtown district, housing, development, protecting existing assets, neighborhoods)Town & Gown: Learning and innovation (a center of medicine and health care, life-long learning, using intellectual/financial capital, re-thinking the status quo)Getting Around: Transportation (transportation of all forms)Community prosperity and engagement: Fiscal Sustainability (affordability, economic development, neighborhoods, services delivery)Cultural & Artistic Vibrancy (arts, creativity, tourism, celebrations, special events, inclusion)Nurturing our community: environmental sustainability (our natural environment, open spaces, solid waste, recycling, parks, greenways, rural buffer)A place for everyone: public safety & diversity
(youth, teens, safe places, a welcoming community) Our Dynamic Region:
(regional assets, partnerships, potential for shared success)

This list of themes feels more like important values for right now ie: policies our Town Council candidates might be debating. Like it or not, our town will not be the same 10 or 20 years from now, just as it is quite different today than it was in 1990. I hope tomorrow, we can put on our thinking caps and really envision a DIFFERENT Chapel Hill that we will love as much or even more than the one we live in (and around) today.

I don't understand why we are falling back on the standard categories -- development, UNC, transportation, fiscal, arts, environment, safety.I'd love to see new ideas for how to group these things into themes that recognize the interrelatedness we have.  For example, you can't talk about development without talking about the rural buffer.  You can't talk aout transportation without talking about greenways.  

I don't either! I'll be posting an entry about this later when I do some coverage of the meeting tonight. Check back for updates :)


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